Just making it to the finish of the grueling SCORE, Tecate Baja 1000 is a monumental feat. Many teams are defeated on race day by the pure logistics involved with getting a crew and a car through miles and miles of inhospitable terrain. This year’s peninsula run covered a staggering 1,121.55 miles from the Pacific Coast in Ensenada to the Sea of Cortez in La Paz. To win in these conditions is amazing; to do it on your first ever attempt is mind-blowing but that’s what Sandy Hall did.
Anyone who has run their own team can vouch for the fact that the foundation for a successful race begins by putting together a skilled team and having a good back-up plan. You need a good back-up plan because your primary plan never seems to work as planned. That is usually learned through experience but in just four months, racer and entrepreneur Sandy Hall put together a team that beat all others in Class 5, Unlimited VW Baja Bug.
As with any great leader, he surrounded himself with the best people he could find like fellow class 5 racer Jim Anderson who worked with Sandy to put together their plan for the race. Sandy purchased Jim’s car, last year’s 1000 winner, then made a call to Andy Devercelly at Major Performance to handle his engine needs. In addition to Major Performance, he called on Alumi Craft Race Cars to perform race prep on his car. Sandy is running a Major Performance, Porsche type 4, 3000cc high compression engine. Major Performance builds many types of race engines from sealed, water-cooled four cylinders to the biggest LS based power-plants but their air-cooled engines are legendary, having been highly refined over many years of racing. When a similar car came on the market, Sandy purchased it as a prerunner and had Alumi Craft set-up the controls similar to the racecar. The prerunner uses a Major Performance, Porsche type 4, 2800cc low compression engine designed to run on pump gas.
After months of planning and preparation, it was time to race. Sandy would drive the first leg of the race and then meet the car farther down the course to run the final 125 miles. “The start was crazy,” said Sandy, “There were cars off the side of the course, crashes and broken cars everywhere. We started 87th off the line; by the time we did 50 miles, we were 34th on the road. When we reached San Felipe things settled down and the cars got spread out. I’m not sure if it was due to the Trophy Trucks going through but the course was much rougher than when we preran, the whoops were huge.” Sandy handed the car off to his brother Chris who would drive the second leg, then Jim Anderson would get in the car.
When the time came for Jim to get in the car, he wasn’t there. He was in a different car that did not make it to the pit in time. Instead, Brian Jeffries got in the car for the third leg. Brian was racing south in the dark when he came around a corner to find the #502 car of Drew Belk sitting on its lid. Brian knew that his friend Dave Bonner would be driving this section so he stopped to see if he was ok. Brian hooked a strap to the car and pulled his friend back on his wheels before taking off. It was a great act of sportsmanship but the now righted Bonner was back on course and looking for a win. The two cars then became locked in a fierce battle for the victory. The race was so competitive that Sandy did not want to lose time making a driver change. Andrea Tomba stayed in the car for two legs taking the car to the finish. “We gave it everything we had,” said Sandy, “We finished with no reverse and only second gear in the transmission but it was enough for the win. It was rougher than you could imagine but our strategy paid off. Our goal was to hand over a clean car for the next driver. We did a lot of planning and preparation on both cars with the help of Jim Anderson and Andy at Major Performance. The engines worked flawlessly and the prep work Alumi Craft did was perfect, we can’t wait to do it again.”
Action Photography By Brian Binkert